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On May 30th the Baku Grave Crimes Court held a hearing on the case of www.azadxeber.org news portal’s editor Nijat Aliyev. Judge Zeynal Agayev presided over the hearing. Although the trial was announced open to the public, a limited number of people were permitted to enter the courtroom and only a small group of media representatives managed to go in. IRFS (obyektiv.tv) reporter Fargana Novruzova and Bizim Yol newspaper correspondents Rashad Aliyev and Javid Gurbanov were unjustifiably prevented from entering the courtroom. Although Aliyev was initially allowed to enter in, the guards later made him to leave saying that there was no empty seat.
In his interview with the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) after the hearing, Aliyev’s lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that the defense filed a petition requesting the court to arrange forensic medical examination for the arrested journalist.
“In our written petition we stated that in his testimony during the previous hearing Nijat Aliyev said he had been tortured by the police while being in custody of Yasamal District Police Station#27, Yasamal District Police Department, and in the police car in front of the Israeli embassy. Aliyev mentioned that some of the signs from those tortures still remain on his body. We filed verbal petition for forensic medical examination in the previous hearing, and today we handed it to the judge in written form. The judge granted our petition” said Imanov.
“I filed another petition requesting the judge to allow journalists to enter the courtroom, as there were enough empty seats. However the judge denied this petition seeing no need for this” the lawyer noted.
The next hearing will take place on June 6, at 10:30am.
Background: Nijat Aliyev was arrested on May 20, 2012 on charges of drug possession.
On January 26, 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 188.8.131.52 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention term was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.
Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.